Angry Robot, out now
There are many ways to try to break the casinos at Las Vegas – but when two college students use magic, they discover a whole new level to Sin City…
Books that twist and turn constantly can be great fun to read, and Vegas Knights very definitely fits into that category. At times it’s humorous, sardonic, deadly serious, horrific – and that can be on just one page! There are so many sudden shifts in the narrative that there are times when you wonder exactly what’s going on but Matt Forbeck knows where he’s taking his story – and when you reach the end, you realise that it’s been under control the whole time.
Like Forbeck’s previous novel, Amortals, there are deeper themes at work beneath the surface. Once again, the question of identity and the value of life are central to the plot: very few people are exactly who they seem to be, and how far each of them will go to save the one they love (and it’s not always immediately apparent exactly who that might be) becomes key.
Magic may be the starting point for this novel – “Think: Harry Potter /Ocean’s 11” was Forbeck’s own suggestions for an early version – but with the appearance of a renowned figure from the history of magic (no, not Merlin), it becomes something far more. Recommended. 8/10